May 20, 2020 08:08 PM

Global Carbon Emissions Fell 17% on Average During Shutdowns, Paper Finds

What’s new: Government policies shutting down economic activity during the Covid-19 pandemic have drastically altered patterns of energy demand around the world, a new study published by peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change has found. The paper examined individual countries from the time they implemented policies to curb economic activity until early April, and found that daily emissions fell an average of 17% year-on-year, although in some countries emissions went down by as much as 26% and in others by as little as 11%. China’s emissions fell the most in absolute terms.

What’s more: As of end-April, the total estimated global decrease in CO2 emissions due to Covid-19 amounted to some 1,048 megatons. China, which began implementing shutdowns in late January, had the biggest decrease of 242 megatons. The United States followed China to become the second largest source of CO2 reduction, with emissions falling by 207 megatons, according to the study led by University of East Anglia and Stanford University.

However, air pollution has come roaring back since April as governments in China have started allowing sections of the economy to reopen. Nationwide levels of airborne PM2.5, ultrafine particles that can pass through the lungs into the bloodstream and damage organs in the body, were 6% higher in April than in the same period last year, according to an analysis published Monday by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), suggesting that there could be a correlated surge in carbon dioxide emission.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua ( and editor Marcus Ryder (

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